Blog'n the night away...

The Mini Wine Tour

Sunday October 2nd 2005
We went on a little wine tour with our local Mini owners group. Good times. A total of 37 Mini Coopers and one classic Mini went from Edina, MN to a Winery (Chateau St. Croix) outside of Taylors Falls. We did get quite a few looks from bystanders as our group rolled through town. I'd like to thank every everyone we met for such a wonderful time. Good people.

Video Card Benchmarks 2005

Friday September 30th 2005
Just did some minor 😊 tweaks to Moonshine. The tweaks should fix the bad FPS I was getting in Battlefield 2.

  Old Configuration
GeForce 6800
New Configuration
GeForce 7800 GTX
New Configuration OC
GeForce 7800 GTX
3DMark 01 17846 23087 25121
3DMark 03 10169 15644 17986
3DMark 05 3884 7541 8788
3DMark 06 n/a n/a 4936

OC means overclocked. I manged to up the clock on the GTX from the default of 430/1200 up to 491/1320. It made a nice difference, and the card still runs stable. A fairly huge leap from the 6800, which was not all that bad of a performer itself. I'm now ready for the next generation of games. Quake 4 and F.E.A.R. come out in October.

Slow goings

Wednesday September 28th 2005
Nothing been going on much for that last few months. Just the usual work and play. Not that I mean to complain about it.

I've recenly been hooked on FireFly. Strange thing, I never heard of it back when it aired in 2002 on Fox. For me, that is highly unusual. I'm usually on top of "geekish" things such as a new Sci-Fi series. I had some friends over last weekend to watch DVD 1 of the set. The very next day, I went out and picked up the DVD collection for myself. I have a goal to get through all the episodes before I see the movie Serenity this Friday. Seems like a plan.

Once again the new video game shopping season is upon us. At this time of year we start to see games and hardware dumped upon us for the Christmas shopping season. This year is extra special because of the upcoming Xbox 360 release on November 22nd. I did have a pre-order going at EBgames.com of the Xbox 360 deluxe package. But, I canceled that due to the fact it was bundling games and options I did not really care for. Now, you can no longer pre-order systems anymore. *Sigh*. I may need to wait till early next year to get the 360. I have a funny feeling they are going to be sold out everywhere. The other problem is there is two different packages. The Xbox 360 Core package (green box), and the Xbox 360 regular package (white box). The core package does not include the hard drive. Granted it's 100 bucks cheaper, but the hard drive is a must. You can't play old Xbox games without it. That and internet downloads are impossible to fit on a 64 meg memory card. Then there is the launch titles. The only games that catch my eye so far are "Perfect Dark Zero", and "Dead or Alive 4". Still, the launch line up is better than what the PS2 had back in 2000.

Enter the MINI!

Monday July 11th 2005
Updates woo-hoo! First off... I GOT MY MINI, πŸ˜€

My MINI! I have been taking it on the first maiden voyages this evening. I still need a bit of practice using a stick shift. It's been 10 years since my last attempt at that. It's coming back easier than I expected. The Mini drives very well. It is like they say. It's a bit like a go-kart, just a whole much more comfortable. A very different world from what I had been driving previous. I'll upload more pics soon. I still need to stop back at the dealership and have the bonnet stripes installed. Once that is done, the look will be complete. I will then take some more pics.

We also spent quite a bit of the summer up at the cabin. It was mostly us just being, well... us. This was also my first ever attempt at waterskiing. I was missing out all these years. I had a great time, and plan to attempt it again.

Battlefield 2

Tuesday July 5th 2005
Just in case you need to find me in Battlefield 2 click here.

June Update

Monday June 27th 2005
Ouch. My legs hurt. This last weekend we spent at the cabin. I attempted to water ski again for the second time. This time was slightly more sucessful. I was able to go almost completly accross the lake without falling down. As soon as we rounded the corner for another lap, I took a nice face plant into the water. If that wasn't enough, and me being so very athletic, I gave another go at wind surfing. It was windy enough to be sure. I was much more agile in this particular sport.

With it raining today again, and my poor poor legs being what they were, Rob and I played some more rounds of Battlefield 2. I'm really getting into this game. I always was a big fan of Battlefield 1942. I appreciate this new sequel even more so. We usually play as a squad and make our rounds to each capture point via whatever vehicle will get us there fast, usually jeeps. I tend to prefer the Special Forces class of character. It is exciting to run up behind tanks, plant some C4, then run away pushing the detonate remote button. BOOM!

On the downside, I can't run the game at full detail. Even with the recently upgraded Moonshine I'm finding myself running at 1152x864 with the lighting settings at medium. Oh heaven forbid I can't run a game at all high detail settings. It seems in order to do so would require a fairly huge jump in rendering prowess.

Summertime Ramblings

Tuesday June 14th 2005
Some summer this is turning out to be. It has been much too rainy for my tastes. I kid with Rob and tell him he must have brought the London weather with him. I still manage to get out and blade whenever I can. I really hope that this gets over with by the time my Mini shows up. Speaking of which, I just checked on the status and it is now floating across the pond. It should be here by July 13th or so. Every day I have to drive that Corsica has been pure torture. 😒

I recently made some small upgrades to Moonshine. I switched out the ATI Radeon card for a eVGA GeForce 6800. I recently read in an article about how you can unlock the 6800 non GT/Ultra card. Normally the 6800 only ships with 12 pipelines enabled. It also by default has one of its vertex shaders turned off. With RivaTuner 15.5 you can unlock the 4 extra pipelines and vertex shader. The only risk you can run by doing this is some possible graphical glitches if the pipelines are defective. I was able to pick this card up from NewEgg for around 200 bucks, and sold my old card to a friend for 100 bucks. So in the end it was a very cheap upgrade. This doubled the rendering performance of my system. I used to get just under 2000 in the benchmark 3Dmark2005. Now I get about 3800. It took my FPS in Half-Life (@1280x1024x32 no/AA trilenear) from 72 fps to 120 fps. I should be able to run the game decently now with 4x AA turned on. Though I usually don't.

I finally finished DOOM 3 last weekend. I sat down and dedicated about 2.5 hours of non-stop gameplay to finish off Hell and the rest of the levels. My first save game was from August of last year. I guess I got distracted with Half-Life 2 once it came out shortly after DOOM 3 did. Post-Mortem: I still like HL2 better than DOOM 3. Still, DOOM 3 is a marvelous game. I'll finish off my reviews about both DOOM 3 and HL2 in the GameDB soon.

Lastly, I finally moved this blog into a database table. It used to be kept in a static template file. The benefits are that I can now post entries from anywhere. This maybe should allow me to post more often. I don't want to get anyones hopes up though. Heh.

Getting a Mini Cooper!

Thursday May 26th 2005
I am finally over my jet lag. It figures I would get a head cold as soon as I get back to jolly Minnesota. That and since I've been back all it has done is rain rain RAIN! I managed to get out and rollerblade only twice in that time. Gotta get back into my groove.

Mini! That's right, I am finally giving my old P.O.S. Chevy Corsica the boot! I'm not much of a car guy, so I was able to bear driving my wife's old Corsica for the last two years while we got our house settled. I hate that car. My old Beretta was in such bad shape that the Corsica was a better car of the two. So I donated the Beretta to charity and grinned and bared driving the white beast. Lesson: You don't pick crap cars, they pick you!

Unfortunately I have to wait about 7 weeks from now till I actually get my Mini. I had to custom order the one I wanted from the factory as the dealer didn't have exactly what I wanted in stock. It will be a loooong wait. We can just stare at this picture till then right? Nah, that'd be pretty psycho even for me. πŸ˜‰ I opted for the hyper blue metallic paint, with a black roof, and black mirrors. There will be black bonnet stripes on the hood as well. The one add-on I wasn't willing to go without is the moon roof. And thankfully it's HUGE! I also added the 16" 5 spoke performance tires. Karen is never big on tires, but the guy in me could't allow going with the stock tires. Sacrilege! I actually have something other than the usual games and tech on the brain. Don't worry, I won't go all nuts and add British Union Jack flags everywhere now.

Guten Tag

Wednesday May 18th 2005
😎 Guten tag! It is good to be home. Though I could do without the jet lag, as I keep waking up at 5 am. Karen and I have spent the last 16 days in Europe. CodeWeavers sponsored my trip to WineConf 2005 in Stuttgart. I used that to take some extra time and explore Germany. Our flight was with Iceland Air. This took us from Minneapolis to Reykjavik Iceland. This was about a 6 hour flight. The airport in Iceland was not really near a city. It was built on a volcanic coast that resembled the Moon or Mars. Still a good sight to see. After a one hour layover we took off to Frankfurt Germany. From there we took a train to Stuttgart. We spent 4 days in Stuttgart. 2 of my days were mostly filled with geekish things like talks and demos. Karen got more of a chance to explore. After the conference, we took the train from Stuttgart to Osnabruck were we met Karen's good friend Susi. We spent the next week in Bad Essen at Susi and Axel's home. They have been fantastic hosts that showed us plenty of great times. The next weekend we spent in Berlin. We drove from Bad Essen to Berlin on the Autobahn at something near 220 kph. It took only about 3 and a half hours to make the trip. I could get used to that! In Berlin we visited parts of the Wall, Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the Pergamon Museum, and the Reichstag. After Berlin we went back to Bad Essen and had plenty of time to explore the surrounding area. Our last stop was in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I'm sure everyone already knows the reputation that city has. Karen and I really were not all that interested in the seedier part of the city. I do appreciate how liberal the city is. Besides, I was still trying to detox after an attempt to keep up with German drinking standards. And yes, German beer is slightly stronger. In Berlin I had this one beer that did not agree with me. It was some kind of Wiessbier mixed with Pepsi and Cherry Rum. Ish! I'll stick to the dark beer thanks! In Amsterdam we visited the central part of the city with all the shops and so forth. We checked out the flower market because Karen has this thing for tulips. It during our time in the flower market that dinglefritz here dropped the camera. I broke off the top cover, but it thankfully remained completely functional. Our diet went to the wayside. The food was simply too good to pass up. Both of us regained just under 5 lbs each. Not too bad I think. With several days of rollerblading and low calorie eating I will get that back off. I didn't find a good pizza while I was in Germany. The Germans make up for it with their sausage *ahem* handling skills. Hah! We even took in a bit of fast food. First McD's I've had in 3 years. Amazingly it works wonders on hangovers.

Since photos speak much louder than words, I took plenty of visual eye candy for your browsing pleasure. Way more than I will post on the web site, around 700 digital photos in total. The web galleries are only about 150 pictures each. Mostly to avoid some freakout from my ISP.

I really should have sprung for the 1 gig compact flash for all the photos I took. I thought I could get by with my 256 meg CF card, but there was a day in Berlin were I filled it completely. I had to delete a few pics to make room for others. Most of the trip I had my notebook and USB reader handy. I was usually diligent in copying the photos over to the notebook. Not sure if there is a lesson to be learned here, but there you go.

Just to get in a small tidbit of game news: Both my PSP and my DS came in very handy during all the flights and train rides involved in this journey. I managed to reclaim the high score in Lumines again. Take that Andrea!

Psychonauts

Wednesday April 27th 2005
Yours truly has been extremely busy. I will disclose the reasons why sometime in the near future. In the meantime check out the review of one of my newest favorites:
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